Collab 101: Essentials of Shared Leadership for Powerful Collaboration

Thanks to Mark Davenport for sharing this. I had seen it previously on the #platformcoop mailing list, but didn’t follow up at the time. Now, on second glance, I see how relevant this training could be for anyone who wants to be involved in cooperative organizing w/ Cosmos. They’re asking only $10 (on a sliding scale) for the full course.

I’m going to sign up and see if I can work it into my schedule at my own pace.

@care_save, if you’re interested in Holacracy, this might be good way to learn more…

Says Mark: “We [Mark and @Adelheid_Hornlein] interviewed [Cecile Green, founder of Collab] about a year ago and she has boosted the right-hand quadrants [exterior focus] of Holocracy to a new inclusivity with the Left Quads [interior focus]. We were very impressed with her work and, knowing your interest in Holocracy, can recommend her work without reservation.”

###More info…

Are you a part of a team that makes decisions together? Do you want to facilitate meetings that are fun, effective, and inclusive?

Collaborative Leaders! We crafted the Collab™ 101 online course for you. If you value collective decision-making, strive to resolve conflict while strengthening your team, and understand that clear accountability is key to success, this course is for you! Participants will receive a plethora of essential tools to implement capacity-building practices within their teams.

Well-functioning workplaces demand strong interpersonal and organizational skills. And when you’re working closely with any team, it takes a high level of communication to ensure everyone is on the same page. Not all communication feels productive though. There are many ways to have open conversations that do not lead to clear results, increased understanding, or movement on projects. Collab™ 101 provides you with the necessary skills and practices to communicate effectively in your team.

We have built a comprehensive system that harnesses the brilliance of your team to drive clear strategic initiatives and action.

But this isn’t just about the tools. To be a strong collaborative leader, you must have a deep understanding of how to meet people where they are and bring your team together. You must practice presence and active listening, develop your problem solving skills, and understand that when one member of the team has a problem, the team has a problem.

[source: Level I Cooperative Leadership Certification Program | Round Sky Solutions]

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“To be a strong collaborative leader, you must have a deep understanding of how to meet people where they are and bring your team together”

A reprise of the basic war metaphor. Sports metaphors and war metaphors are the norm in organizations, and this is the norm which I resist. I resist I hope without the need to re-invent the war zone, the hyper competitive us vs them mentality we all share.

No one ever talks about the business or the organization as a garden to be tended or a baby to be cared for. Leadership is dominated by this pseudo warrior stuff which I intend to mock and make fun of in the spirit of creative anarchy. Although there maybe much that is worthwhile about this collaborative ‘team building’ effort, my gut response is that this is another description of orthodoxy trying to be diverse…

We need in my humble opinion to question the wide spread use of such war and sport metaphors in the arena of leadership and organizations and perhaps discover something else and what that might entail.

“How with this rage shall beauty hold a plea
Whose action is no stronger than a flower?”

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Hey Johnny, I love the “garden” and “baby” metaphors…

But sometimes I like the war and sports metaphors, too. Rushkoff, for example, has his Team Human podcast, which is a playful take on the us (human-oriented humans) vs. them (profit-and-power oriented humans) motif. The book, The War of Art, was also quite helpful to me at a certain phase in my writing career.

Sometimes, as well, I also do feel (with urgency) that we’re in a “war of consciousness,” with forces that are attempting to colonize every last bit of the lifeworld, which calls us to some form of heroic action.

But I like gardens and babies too… :sunflower:

Infinite Conversations is so much more like a garden than a war zone, and I appreciate that. And remember the “electric baby”? Well anyway, I welcome your ridiculous theatrics, because I do see what you’re saying about the standard ways of framing the conversation around businesses and organizations, and how stifling it can be to conceive ourselves as always being fundamentally at odds with the world.


And when fundamentally at odds what would you like to have happen?

I don’t want to be transcended and included. I heard that mantra at Wilber world events. A lot of the Wilber vocabulary is just a rehash of a neo Darwinian, neo-Liberalism , spouted by fantasy prone types who prey on the fearful. Transcend and Include is the strategy of predators and gate keepers who protect their turf and co-opt as many innovations as they can.

I have co-founded and worked for many non-profits, and they too are gripped by the same fever as they go to their board members with their plans, and face their competitors for tax sheltered opportunities. I have sat through hundreds of presentations by well paid consultants who use the same tired rhetoric while the CEO smiles, pays the big fee to the consultant, and finds ways of making you work more and earn less. I have been transceneded and included too many times to take this language game seriously And when everyone gets transcended and included then what happens?

I imagine enough good people would have figured out that the metaphors of war and sports create winners and losers and as long as that is the dominant metaphor you and everyone else will continue to be fundamentally at odds.

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Are you fundamentally at odds with war and sports metaphors, @johnnydavis54?

Sorry, don’t mean to be cheeky, or I guess I do, but only if it includes you and doesn’t transcend. :kissing_heart:

The question I have is: insofar is we’re trying to do something here, and not just talk, how do we get things done?

A few people talking is one thing…but editing a journal, publishing books, producing media, and supporting all of our projects requires structure and infrastructure otherwise the creative anarchy only swirls around itself. I would like to be in conversation with the world.

I have not had as much experience as you with non-profits, but I’ve had enough! I’m not afraid of being indoctrinated into the all-quadrant management meta-theory cult. I’ve been there, done that!

But I also feel that I have a lot learn and so I’m trying to learn as much as I can, wherever I can, and also get others thinking about how we can more effectively organize and do things. I have books to write! I want to create an organization that runs well and gets things done and supports all our efforts.

The ideas of “shared leadership” and “collaboration” are thus attractive to me, because they suggest ways of distributing the load of care-taking a common platform, so that I can be more fully a creative participant and rock shit out with y’all.


" I want to create an organization that runs well and gets things done and supports all our efforts.

Great! A desired outcome. We could unpack that one statement for a very long time.

And you were indoctrinated into the all-quadrant management meta-cult.

And you have been there and you have done that and you wrote a marvelous cautionary tale about that cult experience which I learned a lot from!

I also know we have already experience two collaborations, as you have edited and published two of my stories and we have made attempts to do some CL and other experiential types events started.

The Bubbles study group is another experiment that I’m participating in and I figure we can expect some interesting results from that book as it is covering very similar territories in a very different kind of language. Sloterdijk is playing with metaphors for how groups come together and fall apart and what holds together and what pulls apart. This has already generated some learnings and I wish we could ask at the end of a session if anyone has learned anything from the discussion? This sounds a bit obvious but I feel a lot of learnings if they are not articulated get lost in the void.

We had the experience but we missed the meaning. It is not that hard a question to ask.

And with all of that experience, Marco, the ideas of “shared leadership” and “collaboration” are attractive to you…and I have a question for you. This is not an easy question and if you don’t want to answer I respect that. If you do answer I respect that too.

And when “shared leadership” at your best, that’s ‘shared leadership’ like what?

And can you avoid using a sports or war metaphor?

I can’t resist jumping in here at the risk (nay, certainty) of moving us far away from an assessment of the usefulness of a particular seminar. But the essence of this discussion gets my vote for the perennial tragedy of human history.

My heart fully agrees, but holy moly what a tall order that is! You don’t need leadership and organizations unless you’re setting out to accomplish something for which collective and sustained effort is required. Yet this is almost defined by the existence of some conflict. Gardening? War with the weeds. Raising a baby? War with anything that threatens to hurt the baby. It’s all war. War is as much about patience as violence, as much about careful thought as chaos - as sick as it sounds as much about the preservation as the taking of life. That’s the conundrum - the metaphors are mythically polar rather than necessarily at odds with worthwhile endeavors.

In a perfect world, “shared leadership” looks a lot more like sharing and a lot less like leadership - because the revolution ended in neither Hobbesian anarchy nor a Politburo. A key element in getting there is truly as you suggest: we need a new language. No mean feat.
(I, too, hail from the non-profit world. For all the good that can be and is done, I agree that’s not the ultimate road either. :grinning:)


I agree T J we need a new language and we need a clean start.

I’m reminded of that great American Advertising Executive, Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence, who did more to strengthen the institution of slavery than anyone in history. He knew slavery was wrong and against his ideals and it was his failure to imagine an alternative that created the conditions for the bloodiest war of the nineteenth century, the Civil War.

Jefferson was a living mockery of his ideals and so are we if we fail to imagine alternatives to the master slave dynamics that have resurfaced in our contemporary world. Many of us are hyper aware of the binds we making ( as you point out the dilemma) and I have not said that this is easy.

Cannibal Capitalism is starting to devour it’s own tail. Temperatures are rising. We need to think about thresholds, intensity, phase spaces, strange attractors, coordinating the behavior of complex adaptive systems. We need a new language. Agreed. The people perish without a vision.

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I am glad that you check out Collab founded by Cecile Green. We in the Wisdom Factory have broadcasted twice a conversation with her and we got the impression that her elaboration of Holacracy is really worth to be considered. She herself had worked at Holacracy 1 and went away because of the lacking inner quadrants in that approach - which she has now included in her model of leadership and governance.

Hey Johnny—had to give this one some time…

And when shared leadership at my/our best: the honest truth I’m not even thinking about leadership. It’s not really a useful vocabulary word for me. I am not a leader at all, but what happens is I get excited and enthusiastic about something—some piece of beauty or some solution to a problem—and I want other people to see the same beauty/solution and enjoy it with me, because it’s lonely or ineffective otherwise, and happier when we share our energies.

I think I avoided any war or sports metaphors in that!

Also: I signed up for the course, to check it out, and watched parts of the overview video. Cecille and her team seem like really nice people, and I think what they’re trying to do, teaching people how to circulate power in a healthier ways, is really important. Interestingly, Cecille is also a farmer and grows her own food. Round Sky Solutions looks like it could help small organizations of similarly-minded people become more peaceful (or ‘integrated’).

However, the materials I’ve seen on the website also reminded me that I’m not actually very interested in what’s called “organizational development” or even “personal development.” I respect these fields and discourses, and recognize the need for them (even for myself)—but I am not personally passionate about them. I am much more excited about “making art” than I am about “building an organization.”

But the artistic enterprise comes with all sorts of complications. For one thing, nobody can just “make art” without also “paying the bills,” which usually involves “working with others,” which often requires something conventionally called an “organization.” I definitely don’t think we have a great language for this yet! I would prefer a more dynamic, creative approach.

@care_save has been thinking about this topic lately in a bio-centric and “organismic” fashion, viewing the co-op as a participatory living system. This is aesthetically more compelling to me than the language of business consulting, and might be a good pathway to explore in this or a new conversation.


Oh, so many ideas sparked and things to say!

First, yes we need a new language. Because the reason we fall on the sword of sports metaphors and war language is because its something that almost universally everyone understands. If you ever kicked a ball with a group of kids or had to hunt for your food, you know in your bones what “us vs. them” means, and how it applies to you when you are trying to have your needs met.

And TJ nailed it when he said it is all war. Both the baby and the garden require inviting some things in (us) and keeping some things out (them).

So when you are trying to rally a group of people around an idea you are excited about, you inevitably have to use language that answers their question “What’s in it for me?” Will this idea give me something, or take away something? Do I want what’s being offered or taken? Even if what the person wants is to collaborate and participate in shared leadership, they will be individually assessing how likely this idea is going to fulfill this very personal need.

And their assessment is going to be based on the structures they are familiar with. “Climbing the corporate ladder”. “Survival of the fittest”. “Compensation”. “Keeping up with the Jones-es”. As much as I hate to admit it, it’s much easier to assess how well you are doing using the old language of money, power/influence, and status as your currency rather than the new language of happiness, camaraderie, and well-being.

I agree with Johnny that “transcend and include” may not be the answer.

I am focusing these days on what it means to “transform”. How do we take these structures that we are all familiar with, knock them down a bit, gather up the bricks, and build something new with it? Build something that people are not scared of (because they can see it’s still the same bricks that they are familiar with) but are willing to look at with new eyes, because “there’s something different about it.”

Of course, therein lies the real challenge. Getting people to open their eyes! I too have had lots of corporate and non-profit leadership experience. And its frustrating and debilitating to be “working” with people who aren’t interested in “collaborating”, “sharing”, or building something. They want to sit back and be taken care of! They want the good stuff to be given to them, the bad stuff taken away, while the current of everyone else’s work carries them along. If you are stuck on a team with these folks, you have to resort to the language of sports and war if there is the slightest chance of motivating them at all. “If you don’t get this work done, you will be fired.” (Fear of compensation loss) “If you don’t come to this meeting, we will kick you off the project.” (Fear of loss of status)

And this is my problem with most “organizational development” or “team building” philosophy. It assumes that with the right tools, language, or environment, that even the laziest person in the room will eventually join the party and contribute. My experience tells me this is not the case. For every overachiever, there is a poser who just wants the gold star for showing up. If there is no threat of war (loss), there is no desire for peace (happiness).

So what do we do?

For me, personally, in addition to this concept of “transformation”, I am also exploring the possibility of allowing people to be the individuals that they are, with the freedom to come in and out of groups as their needs are met. Yes, we may be “stronger together than we are apart”, but when the need to be “strong” no longer exists (because the challenge has been met, the goal achieved) then staying together for the sake of staying together makes no sense. Let each individual break away for a while to self-sustain, or to search for another group to meet another need. This philosophy accommodates those people who want to stand still. And allows people who are excited about a common idea to continue to move forward without being slowed down by the sticks in the mud.

The only “catch” I see with this philosophy is that there still needs to be a certain expectation of commitment when you join the group. You have to agree to adhere to the group rules, to show up, to do the work, and to be accountable. So there is still a reliance on some of those “old” structures just to give the group a foundation on which to operate.

Collaboration is tough, Marco. You have to balance the needs of the organization (to get things done) against the needs of the individual (to have their needs met, no matter what they might be.) If collaboration is desired (or requried) then Everyone has to be willing to play the game (sports metaphor), exhibit sportsmanship, agree on what the goal is, and do their part to support the team. If someone is not willing to commit to these terms, then collaboration with them is not possible. And it’s OK to let them go.

Until we are all born with the innate understanding that having our own personal needs met requires other people having their needs met, we are stuck using language to try to bridge the gap between “us and them”.


I think you have developed the problem space really well, Wendy and Marco, and I have nothing to add really. We are in a transition from the old to the new and we each of us have to find a way to open up to this dilemma that you describe.

Many of us want to unplug from the dysfunction in group dynamics, the regression that occurs to parent/child stuff, the pseudo-competition, the bullying tactics, etc. I have no answer but a lot of questions.

When you are working in an organization at you best, that’s like what?

I’m asking myself to generate my own metaphor, which is not going to be the same as anyone else’s metaphor. In the future I imagine more organizations will be able to invite their workers/collaborators to generate their own metaphors for each project, for each assignment

I understand that in World War 2 they build victory ships in 24 hours and without a boss telling workers what to do. That is what I call motivation. They wanted to defeat Hitler!..

My feeling is that in the old paradigm it was the boss who came up with the metaphor and she hired others to implement the metaphor, to put it into action. Your Innovators are often left out once their contribution is made available to those who want to make a quick buck off other person’s research and energy. This is a painful lesson. The gatekeepers and the predators unite to make others compete, giving the illusion that change is occurring. Actually it is just the same old status quo.

My feeling is the future transformation will have to allow each person to bring their own metaphor to the mix. Attrition rates and boredom would vanish quickly if each person could become their own metaphor.

And when we let go of the team and the war metaphors, and the winners take all, the us vs. them, what happens next?

The particle becomes a wave!


Wendy, this idea is similar to one that Bonnitta Roy includes in her concept of “open participatory organizations,” which I resisted when we spoke because of the very next point you raise, which is something like, how do you get things done with people always coming and going? If there isn’t necessarily an economic need to showing up and doing the work (e.g., if I don’t, then I won’t get paid, then I won’t be able to pay my bills, etc.) then what keeps people focused on something long enough to achieve something worthwhile?

When I spoke with Bonnitta I thought it might be important to hold onto a notion of “commitment” in the open participatory space—and I still feel this as a value—but commitment to what? If the organization is a fiction, and Hitler’s dead, and we’re all coming and going anyway, then what or who are we committed to?

Maybe a basic sense of personal integrity is enough—doing more or less what you say, but remaining flexible and tolerant of change, while focusing on keeping the interactions beneficial and useful. Over time, relationships form, and these have their own continuity which keeps the game going. That’s perhaps the best I can do for now!


And that’s pretty good. Plus the realization, when “up against history”, that the purpose has to be the key to what kind of organization will be the most effective.

Yes. And this opens another great chicken/egg consideration: the collective understanding and the language need to emerge together…

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All of you, dear comrades, are onto something-something BIG!

Like the seven blind men exploring the elephant we grope around and find a tail, a trunk or a flank and imagine we got the whole thing. II love that old Sufi tale for as I grow older I realize what a charming cautionary tale it is. I wonder what would happen if the elephant made a sound? Or started to move? How does the elephant feel getting groped and poked?

“Over time, relationships form, and these have their own continuity which keeps the game going.”

And Marco, what kind of relationships are those?

And what kind of game is that game that the relationships keep going?

“Until we are all born with the innate understanding that having our own personal needs met requires other people having their needs met, we are stuck using language to try to bridge the gap between “us and them”.”

And until we are all born with the innate understanding we are stuck using language to try to bridge the gap, what kind of gap is that? Can we bridge that gap?

And when transformation, how will we know transformation? Where is transformation? On the inside or the outside? Does it have a size or a shape?,

And the particle becomes a wave? What kind of wave? A wave that knows itself to be a particle and a wave.

And can that wave that knows itself to be a particle and a wave bridge that gap?

Yes, maybe, sometimes, never, always…

And what happens next?

I’m going out to get another cup of coffee, ride my bike to the library and study complementarity and the uncertainty principle and the nature of the subtle body…the hybrid body,… that can oscillate between gaps and know itself as that which is from the in between…

“And this opens another great chicken/egg consideration: the collective understanding and the language need to emerge together…”

And the language need…where does that language need come from?

And is there anything else, T J, about that language?

May we continue to deconstruct the Cartesian Grid, good people, for we are more , much more than that!!!


Dearest Comrades,

I am from the middle of nowhere. The weather is hot, as I recall a glimpse of a teenage boy, sneaking a cigarette at in the back of the family house, looking up at the moon, hearing a symphony of Brahms coming from the stereo in my bedroom. My senior year in high school. Texas, 1973

I look up from my laptop and see the busy intersection of 13th and Broadway, from inside the cool café, midday Manhattan, summer of 2017. I loathe cigarettes, haven’t touched a cigarette in forty years. I’m still very fond of Brahms, especially that slow movement to the third symphony that teenage boy played over and over again, a lonely boy, yearning for love, looking up at a lonely moon. And I found the love that he was dreaming about. Lucky lad.

Now, that is a remarkable transformation! The cells in the body of the teenager are no longer the cells in the body of the senior, yet both persons are unified by an affection for Brahms, a composer who died before I was born. Weird.

It cannot be that I am he and yet we are.

He and I are weak/strong versions of a consortium of intelligences that seek renewed membership in an ever expanding mandala that emerges out of the coalescence of stardust and the waste of countless biological organisms.

I am not a knowing subject here and you an object over there separated and divided by a space, using sounds generated by physical organs, that get translated somehow and decoded, in a purely material, epiphenomenal process.

The physical is not a trap or a gadget to be manipulated by selfish memes.

Into the fields of intimate possibility, riding a beam of light, this is sexy-

You come too!


We must ( well we don’t have to) become leaders in our own process. If you don’t someone else will. It is a vacuum that will be filled. Those kind of fear based imitative impulses ( follow the leader) will be less and less sponsored.

Each of us is an expert already on doing the Self but we have to hide that now. In the future we would trust our own self management and stop hiding. We wont teach or mentor each other, we will sponsor each other. Selfish altruism will be rampant among us, we wont be fighting over crumbs of rich people. We will find our own center and gracefully enter the field of our interests with open hands and stay amused by what we discover. What then will happen to the Market?

Can this be turned into a money making venture?

I imagine the future economy when the sublte realms are liberated from Newton’s dark sleep will direct us to pay attention to what now is peripheral-dreams, moods, atmospheres, absence/presence dynamics, locating the energies of distant times and places through the body, noticing the movement of the body, the muscle tone, the tone of the voice, the phases of the moon, the history of a place, of a piece of bone, of a branch or a bit of linen. We would remember what we have been trained to forget.

Every gesture and tone in self or other is a clue to what wants to happen, what wants liberation. We could for example zoom into a disease process, where a person has gotten stuck and find the missing rtyhyms, the rhythms that got interrupted. We can pay attention to what is behind the words a person uses, to what the words represent, to what wants to be made flesh. Words will once again have magic.

We could do this kind of listening with eco systems and we can supplement what we get from the ground with what computer modeling can offer. I imagine when people are paying attention to the bodymind sensitively a new relationship with computers and technology will arise. Metaphor and analogy will take the lead. The left brain will be an emissary not the Master. What appears like magic on one level is ordinary on another level. We will use the mind to touch what is incondensable. We will do the hokey pokey and shake it all about.

We will have dropped the reliance upon a Buddha and Jesus and the great axial age figures and will have returned to the Promethean heat that was brought from heaven so long ago.

We would be drawing a lot, diagrams and charts, would be necessary, to track the invisible, and compare drawings, models. We would be good phenomenologists, good semioticians. We would know the difference between a sign and a symbol. We would have lots of time to process new ideas, and we would have time to touch the body and listen to the unheard music. The sublte would be arising with new directions for us to take and we would be paying more attention to language that is connected to the bodymind and recognize that those who don’t hear voices and fail to develop at least five extraphsyscial senses , in addition to refining the basic physical ones are wasting precious time.

The Magus and the Master will sit at the same table and be friends, no more witch hunts. We will have different labels for very different kinds of processes and can make quick assessments about which tool or model is most appropriate. We can make and unmake boundaries as is necessary.

Aesthetics, ( you cant have too much of something that is pretty) will drive our ambitions.

This is already happening. There will be a pulling of hair and a gnashing of teeth. New prophets are among us and they will be persecuted as the prophets before them were persecuted. The beat goes on-

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@johnnydavis54, you’re laying down some good morphogenetic grooves, a whole treasure chest of ways of being sensitive and alive that might seem cut off to many people now. You may be approaching manifesto territory!

For me this topic of leadership and collaboration wants to lead toward some sense of concretization.

The subtle is more ethereal, of course, than what seems most real and concrete in conventional terms, and yet the ethereal must somehow be concretized. And when concretized, then what happens? Where concretized? Does concretization have a shape or color?

You do the hokey pokey and you turn yourself around. That’s what it’s all about, right?

I like that we’re imagining possibilities—many of your examples (which are concrete) are things we can do without need of great resources, but just by paying attention to our own experience in subtler ways.

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“And when concretized, then what happens? Where concretized? Does concretization have a shape or color?”

Very good questions, Marco, and you are starting to self-model, so I will get out of your way and let you do your own thing, encouraging for you to become your own metaphor.

I would invite you to pause after each question that you have posed and wait for awhile before you answer.

And what happens right before concretization?

And can you put your hand on it? Or put _______ in your perceptual space?

And once you have a label and an address you can ask yourself what it is like?

In my experience it happens in the in-betweens of the concrete and the abstract but that is my model of world.

What is your model, what is my model? If we had a leadership arrangement in an organization that could deal with that question we would be modeling shared realties. That is a very large research question, of course, since most people aren’t aware that they even have a model of the world. That is the kind of research that I believe with a mustard seed of faith could move mountains.Then we could light up this cave-

As Jesus , that great poet, once said," If you bring forth that which is within you it will save you. If you don’t bring forth that which is within you it will destroy you."

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I resonate very much with what you are saying here, @johnnydavis54, though I’m many months later in my reclaiming of this thread of unfolding thought!

In book from the early 90s by Starhawk, called Truth or Dare, the author provides many instructions and options for group rituals which enable the collective inquiry into the group’s own intrinsic meaning-making processes that I find ripe for bringing into Cosmos’ developmental processes, in terms of how we might go about cultivating flexible, creative and affirming “group minds” while avoiding the perils of “groupthink.”

Here are some titles of the rituals around group inquiry, activities & practices, to give a taste:

  • Questions About Mutual Care
  • Questions About Solidarity
  • Questions About Boundaries
  • Questions About the Reality of Power
  • Questions of Frame
  • Body Introductions
  • Group Mythmaking
  • Group Power Place
  • Next-Steps Group Meditation

Just for some examples!

I think some of these ritual interventions could be helpful to experiment with periodically, in any collaborative group immersed in productive work. I particularly like that members of a group are prompted to ask certain questions or play certain ritual games with one another, thus supporting an overarching aim of mutual bond-building even while investigating seemingly-solid beliefs or group identities that are calling to be revitalized or changed.